Agra, a city steeped in history and culture, lies in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is home for one of the world’s most iconic landmarks—the Taj Mahal. This guide offers visitors a glimpse of what awaits them in Agra, featuring two exciting outdoor activities, a pair of must-visit spots, and an unconventional tip to ensure an unforgettable journey.
Cycling through Agra’s countryside
Agra is surrounded by lush countryside, and cycling is a great way to explore the area. Renting a bike and setting off on a self-guided tour will allow you to experience the beauty of the area at your own pace. Some popular routes include the Yamuna River Loop, which takes you along the river and through rural villages, and the Fatehpur Sikri Loop, which takes you to the abandoned Mughal city of Fatehpur Sikri.
Sunset Boat Ride on the Yamuna River
An exciting outdoor activity to experience in Agra is a sunset boat ride along the Yamuna River. As one of India’s most significant rivers, it boasts spectacular views of the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Along the way, catch a glimpse of local life in the riverside villages. The most magical time for this boat ride is in the evening when the monuments bask in the warm, golden hues of the setting sun.
The Taj Mahal
Experiencing Agra wouldn’t be complete without marveling at the Taj Mahal. This emblematic monument stands as a symbol of enduring love and ranks among the most photographed landmarks across the globe. To truly capture its beauty, plan your visit for sunrise, when the gentle light illuminates the structure and fewer crowds abound. Don’t forget to explore the mosque and guest house within the Taj Mahal complex for a well-rounded experience.
Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of India’s finest examples of Mughal architecture. It was built in the 16th century and served as the main residence of the Mughal emperors until the capital was moved to Delhi. The fort is made of red sandstone and houses several palaces, including the Jahangir Palace and the Khas Mahal. The fort also offers great views of the Taj Mahal from the Diwan-i-Khas, a pavilion used for private audiences with the emperor.
Visit the Mughal Heritage Walk
The Mughal Heritage Walk, an initiative by the Uttar Pradesh government, aims to foster sustainable tourism while highlighting Agra’s rich heritage. This captivating walk goes through the old city’s narrow streets, leading you past remarkable sites such as Jama Masjid, Mankameshwar Temple, and Agra Fort. Guided by local residents, you’ll gain intimate knowledge of the city’s culture and history. Starting at the Shilpgram parking lot, the journey concludes at the picturesque Mehtab Bagh, a garden across the Yamuna River that boasts magnificent views of the Taj Mahal.
The Mysterious Tree at Kailash Temple
The Kailash Temple is a unique temple complex in Agra that is known for its intricate carvings and unusual architecture. The complex is built to resemble Mount Kailash, the mythical home of the Hindu god Shiva. The temple also has a mysterious tree that is said to grant wishes to those who tie a ribbon to its branches.
The Baby Taj
The Baby Taj, also known as the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, is a beautiful mausoleum that is often overlooked by tourists. The tomb was built in the 17th century for the father of Nur Jahan, the wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir. The tomb is made of white marble and features intricate inlay work and delicate carvings. It is said to have inspired the design of the Taj Mahal.
Situated a mere 600 meters from the Taj Mahal, The Oberoi Amarvilas is a lavish hotel offering breathtaking views of the iconic monument. Guests can revel in the hotel’s spacious and elegantly decorated rooms and suites, indulge in the on-site spa, dip in the pool, and dine at multiple restaurants serving Indian and international cuisine. The hotels pièce de résistance is the opportunity to witness the sunrise over the Taj Mahal from a private balcony.
Nestled in the heart of Agra, The Gateway Hotel is a mid-range option just a brief drive away from the Taj Mahal. It features cozy rooms and suites equipped with contemporary amenities, an inviting restaurant serving Indian and international cuisine, a bar, a pool, and a fitness center. To further enhance your experience, the hotel provides a complimentary shuttle service to the Taj Mahal.
Hotel Taj Prince is a budget hotel located just 1.5 kilometers from the Taj Mahal. The hotel features simple and clean rooms with basic amenities, an on-site restaurant serving Indian and Chinese cuisine, and a rooftop terrace with a great view of the Taj Mahal. The hotel also offers complimentary pick-up and drop-off services to the railway station and bus stand.
Zostel Agra is a backpacker hostel located just 1.5 kilometers from the Taj Mahal. The hostel features dormitory and private rooms with basic amenities, a common area with games and books, a rooftop terrace with a view of the Taj Mahal, and a kitchen where guests can cook their meals. The hostel also organizes walking tours and activities for its guests.
Agra is a city that is steeped in history and culture, and is a must-visit destination for travelers who want to experience the best that India has to offer. From cycling through the countryside to taking a sunset boat ride on the Yamuna River, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. The Taj Mahal and Agra Fort are two must-see places, while the Mughal Heritage Walk provides an unusual and insightful glimpse into the city’s rich heritage. So, plan your trip to Agra today and experience the magic of this incredible city for yourself!